Flowerpower: ERDEM x HM

Normally I'm not into floral wear, although I cannot get enough of flowers in nature, in art and in print design. For some reason I just don't feel comfortable in florals myself. They end up stuck in the back of the closet, every time I try.

Now, I love it when great marketing design is so seductive and persuasive, that it makes me want something I don't usually wan't, so badly! I find this brain process fascinating. The thing is, of course, that you don't need to obey every impulse - you can actually just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The freshly launched web campaign for Erdem x HM is SO beautiful. I've idled an hour away in front of the screen, exploring every detail, and now I just want to swoon in a meadow full of spring flowers, dressed in Edwardian/Pre-Raphaelite/boho/country lady style and sport an androgynous haircut. And, believe me, that is a bit of a steep step for me, stylewise (I would really like the backpack from the men's collection though).

Get flowered yourself by the stunning web design (use your mouse scroll button to explore the site), or, at least see the crazily lavish Baz Luhrman film.

(all images are screenshots from www.hm.com and from the Baz Luhrman film)


Lydia Kasumi Shirreff: Paper engineer

London based paper artist Lydia Kasumi Shirreff calls herself a 'paper engineer', and the complex geometrics of her work, makes that title quite appropriate. And when art and engineering meet, interesting things often happen! 

She does all kinds of abstract, fun and surreal backdrops or mini set designs for commercial photo shoots or editorial illustrations for a long list of very prestigious magazines and clients. In an interview from last year - read it right here - she tells us, when asked why she works in paper, that she just started out as a young designer/sculptor needing a cheap, available and flexible material. And then I suppose she must have stuck with the paper, and has become an absolute virtuoso.

See the magic she works - more links and info after the images.

These cubist, abstract works are just stunning! 

Some of her work is more explosively colorful - and these are just a few examples, visit her website (which I linked to in the beginning of the text), and explore. What I find fun personally, being so fond of paperwork myself, is trying to figure out some of her processes. Not so easy, and very, very impressive, no matter how she has done it.

She has done a lot of figurative set ups for various fashion and lifestyle clients, sometimes so neatly done, that they fool the eye at first (a bit in the style of the amazing German artist Thomas Demand)  but more often like these, where the feel of the paper makes it all pop-arty and candy like. 

On her website she does this great thing - she has a couple of 'behind the scenes' photos, showing her equally impressive work in the photo studio. When you see the shot I will show here, below, it looks almost like a surreal construction made in some 3D rendering program.....

But then check out the next image - and note how the roll of duct tape indicates the size of the small, hanging paper sculptures.

Nice work, indeed, and I love how she shares some of the meticulous preparations for such a single shot. How she works, can also be seen in this little video I found, where she explains a project she made for the eye wear brand Cubitts.

All images: copyright Lydia Kasumi Shireff


The National

I have recently discovered that I really like The National, the band from New York, that is - and after I saw the way they present their new album, 'Sleep Well Beast', which came out a few weeks ago, I have decided to become a fan, and take it from there...

They had none other than Pentagram design a whole corporate branding package, slightly as a bit of a joke, I guess. But it's so super elegant! Read a lot more about it here.

But enjoy a couple of samples here, and - of course - check out the album, it sounds great. 

I really love the use of the two intense shades of blue, with just a touch of red here and there, and the grainy monochrome photos. But some of it HAS to be an absolute corporate-identity-joke, I mean, a stapler...? A tape-dispenser (and even tape)...? That's so funny.

But actually my interest in The National started last year, at Copenhagen Contemporary this really great (but temporary, sadly) art venue here in Cph.

Last year they had the Icelandic video artist Ragnar Kjartansson's project 'A Lot of Sorrow' on the programme, a film about a rather unusual performance: In 2013, at MoMA in  New York, the band played their song 'Sorrow' non stop for six hours in front of an audience. Ragnar Kjartansson - who came up with the idea - also filmed this epic display of patience and endurance.

And at CC they showed an edited version of the performance (and also had a few full length screenings), and I guess we walked into some part in the later half, where the band is in a state of exhausted deep, deep concentration and commitment to the song. It had a mesmerizing, weird effect, that repetition - and though the song is simple, gloomy and not very long, it somehow really grows on you. Grows into you, almost.

It is really worth checking out this fascinating project, if it is shown anywhere near you.


Here is a little film about it from Louisiana Channel

There is a full length but audio only version on YouTube.


So strange, so beautiful

Wonderful, dreamy and peculiar they are, jellyfish - and you never really get to look at them properly. They are quite abundant in Danish waters, but hard to study in detail. Imagine my delight, when we visited the fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium*, where an entire section is dedicated to them. These are common types in the Pacific area near Monterey, not odd or exotic varieties. I didn't write down the names, but just stood there, hypnotized, in front of the giant, backlit tanks, in the dark rooms, that made them gleam like jewels, and every tentacle, detail and colour stand out. Stunning!
Summer is coming to an end, and I am slowly starting to digest all the impressions from our long trip in July and August (we travelled on the US West coast), not to mention roughly organizing hundreds and hundreds of photographs, something I am always very keen to get done, but sadly do in short bursts of wild energy and determination (and then I don't get much done) and at very odd intervals.

I have thousands of unsorted photos in folders and folders, and they are both my treasure and a constant source of feeling behind. I think this is a very common problem, and sometimes I consider making dogma rules for myself, such as being only allowed to take ten photos per day, or doing a daily delete-session. Because sorting images for me is a big job: it actually means getting rid of all the redundant ones, only keeping the one or two of a certain scene I actually like, and it also means doing the big or small photoshop corrections on each image that may need them. And only then do I consider a folder of images sorted and done. And I do actually enjoy looking at my old photos, I frequently spend hours getting lost in them - I'd think rather have that than Netflix, any day. 

But what a job. Sigh. 


Summer Break

This blog will be taking a very official break (after a longer period of not very frequent posts - sorry about that, readers, I do hope you have found some of the old posts useful).

My family and myself will be making an old dream come true: the classic California roadtrip - from Seattle to San Diego with an lot of interesting stops on the way (Portland, Mount Shasta, Napa Valley, San Fransisco, Los Angeles - and a lot of smaller places like Monterey, Big Sur, Solvang, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree. Wow!).

It will be a big adventure, and I know I will be back with lots of new energy, power and inspiration, after a busy and a bit too challenging spring. And - perhaps best of all - an entire month spent in the company of some of the people I love best. Not too bad, huh? 

See you in late August, and a happy and peaceful summer to you all.


It's the longest day of summer today

And I am way too busy or preoccupied to blog at the moment. As always, I will tell you that I will be back at it, and of course I will. I just can't find the peace or time at the moment. 

So what do I do? 

I take care of my day job, my family, my garden, two guinea pigs, two households - and sometimes, but not often enough, myself. 

But I always find time to enjoy summer - as personified here in symbolic form, by Alexander Girard's lovely, big, yellow sun. Alexander Girard is one of my all time graphic design heroes - have a look right here, and see why. 

Happy midsummer, and see you a bit later!


A subterranean must see in Cph: Sambuichi 'the Water'

Very close to where I live, an old system of underground water reservoirs have become an art space, some years back - and every year Cisternerne present a new wild and overwhelming installation, created specifically for this cavern-like dark and wet space, hiding secretly under the park clad hill by the castle, that I have written about before.

This year it is the Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi, who has created the installation. It's called 'the Water'. I went to see it yesterday, and it was so incredibly beautiful. My absolute warmest recommendations, to anyone living in or going to Copenhagen, and it will be there until February 2018, so no need to rush.

Yesterday was a sunny day, and this is a really dark experience, in the literal sense of the word. You crawl down the narrow stairs to an almost physically tangible pitch black nothing at first - all you sense around you is this cool and drippingly wet cavern and an almost overwhelming scent of fresh cedar and cypress wood - and the peculiar, metallic smell of wetness. Blinded by this sudden shift from blazing spring sun to underground cave, I almost crawled into the space. I couldn't see a thing.

But then the most elegant and mysterious world started to materialize before my eyes - like a dark forest or an underwater shrine. The whole space is transversed by elevated, cedarwood walkways in traditional Japanese style, and here and there they lead you to surprising vistas; the lantern lit curve of a bridge, an island of deliciously green fresh moss. Sudden pillars of natural sunlight, led underground by intricate mirrors. And constantly the sound of dripping water.

It was actually a bit hopeless to photograph, except in the parts where you could see, by sunlight - the semi-dark places just couldn't be done any justice by a camera. Go see for yourself, it's great

Links and info after the images.

There were a lot of references to traditional Japanese architecture and to their perception of the elements - and of course some philosophical layers in the whole concept of the installation, which will grow and evolve as nature wills it, in the period it's there. Read about the whole thing here on the Cisternerne (as the place is called) website.

In the heart of the space there is a very, very dark area, where a different kind of rope line the walkways, and seem to border off a kind of center of the grid - where apparently nothing is - but I saw that the rope was the very rough, handmade hemp kind, that you see around shinto temples, and that white strips were hanging from them. I actually had to take a blitz photo to establish this.

There was something that felt very magical about this roped off centre, and I am sure that the kami were abundant there. I could almost not bring myself to leave, but in the end I was freezing (bring a sweater!) and had to get back up into the sun. To be blinded all over again. 


Origami Cherry Blossoms

This year Easter and hanami (Japanese for the season of blossoming cherry trees) coincide. So my paper-diy-project Easter egg gift for you, is a very pretty origami cherry blossom. These are quite large, and would look great as table decorations.

There are countless ways of folding a sakura with five petals, but I did a little research, and I think this one is both pretty, easy to make - and it has all the right characteristics of the cherry blossom, like the star shape and that lovely little dent each petal has. Find the tutorial and my special paper, after the images.

These are modular origami, you need to fold each petal individually, and then assemble them. Once you get the hang of it, you may experiment with the dent (the extra fold in the petal, that gives it shape), you can fold that in many ways - and you could also make flowers with much more than five petals, using the same principle.

You'll need glue for these, otherwise they are all over the place!

I made two slightly different designs, and two sizes : about 12 cm. and 8 cm. - or you could scale the design and make miniature versions of them, they are not complicated to fold. Download and print the special paper, that has two flowers of each size and design, right here: Get the PDF

Happy folding, happy Easter, happy Hanami or perhaps just spring!



Last week I went to Tallinn, Estonia, for the first time - actually it was my very first visit to anywhere in the Baltic countries, even though they are close to Denmark, and tickets are often cheap. I went with a group of girlfriends, simply to relax and stroll and eat nice food, and we were very happy with the visit. We stayed in a modern hotel, right next to the old town center, with its medieval walls, cobblestones, church spires and pastel color houses. It is a beautiful place, and the atmosphere is great, people are nice and there is loads to do, see, eat and drink. This is not a travel tip blog post, but there were a few places that impressed us especially, so let me just give a you couple of warm recommendations.

Simply wonderful restaurant (see interior a couple of photos above): Vanaema Juures (meaning something like 'Granny's Place'). Traditional Estonian food with a contemporary twist, and very charming interior - old lamps, family photos and stuff - but somehow not in a kitschy way, just friendly and cosy. And great hostesses!

Best bar in town, we think (see also photo above): Self Baar - a nice little gin bar, and is a must if you like a G+T. Here they have 50 different gins and several tonics, lemonades, cordials and whatnot to mix them with. And they spice them up with hawthorn, cucumber, peppercorns and other magical ingredients - and they are heavenly. Also, of course, super nice staff. 

Great spot for lunch (see last photo): F-hoone - a big, lively restaurant in an old industrial building, situated in the middle of Telliskivi Creative City (an old industry area near the train station, now workshops, small businesses, bars, pop up shops and general lots-going-on). Best place for some very relaxed studies of the Estonian hipster - and the food was delicious.

I can only say: if you get the chance - go to Tallinn!